The current restrictions have forced us to stay at home, affecting mental and physical health in many. Another unfortunate side effect is that we have been forced to accept a more sedentary lifestyle. This lifestyle is negatively affecting us in several different ways, but one major side-effect we have noticed is a loss of mobility and flexibility.
This is having clear effects on everyone, including those who were previously exceptionally active. This is expressing itself as movement dysfunction and this is the topic we want to explore first.
Movement dysfunction can present itself in many different forms. When we look at cross-training (weightlifting, running, combat sports, HIIT) as an example, it requires you to test the limits of not only strength, and skill but also movement. If you can’t squat keeping your chest upright with your arms directly above your head, you will never be able to snatch or overhead squat heavy loads, safely. If you cannot get your arms directly overhead without breaking into excessive lumbar extension (lower back arch), then don’t even think about pressing a heavyweight over your head unless compressing your lumbar disks is the desired outcome. If you cannot dynamically lift your leg above waist height, then those 200 kicks you throw at Muay Thai practice will leave you in a stiff mess at the end of the week.
Movement dysfunction can be addressed in many ways and has shot to the limelight recently with movement specialists such as Ido Portal working with various athletes and celebrities. Yoga is a great place to start for those who have become more sedentary as a result of lockdown, or those showing immediate signs of dysfunction. Its practice dates back hundreds of thousands of years and centers on controlling both body and mind.
Yoga incorporates various muscular contractions, coupled with specific breathing and movement patterns which can yield improvements in flexibility, mobility and strength. It also has a calming effect that leaves you feeling more relaxed and focused, something we are all looking for in lockdown.
Why Yoga is an ideal way to improve your mobility and physical health in lockdown -
#1 – Learn something new
Your first Yoga class is just as humbling as the first time you stepped into the gym or signed up to learn a new sport. There is nothing more rewarding and self-fulfilling then seeing progress in anything that you do. Just like anything you have ever dedicated time towards, the more you commit, the more reward you will reap. You’ll be thanking your yoga instructor when you see the carry over to your sport, training or day to day life.
#2 - Learn from an expert
With every yoga session you attend or even some of the free classes online, you are working with a qualified professional, in the same way, that you work with your personal trainer or coach. These people have spent years working to understand the body, breathing and how the combination of movement and breathwork can improve your mind-body connection and help overcome Movement Dysfunction.
Whilst following a YouTube video can be a great start, we would also recommend attending a physical class (if you can) or a Zoom class to get feedback on your form and continue to improve.
#3 – Relax and recover
Training at our gym or following our online workouts, involve moving fast at high intensity, but in order to cultivate results, you must also rest. We always promote that you should be recovering as hard as you train. Being able to relax deeply helps you come back with more power, focus, and determination because you’ve had ample time to recover. Incorporating yoga practices into your training week on a recovery day is a great way to help ensure you are ready to roll for your next day of training.
On this note, ask yourself how much time and energy you dedicate towards restorative practices? An easy way to relate this would be to assign 10 minutes of restorative practice per hour you train. So, if you hit the gym 5 hours per week you now owe your body 50 minutes of Yoga, Massage, Sauna or gentle cardiovascular training.
For longevity in health and training, the importance of restorative practice should never be overlooked. It’s time that you stopped grimacing in pain every time you squat, fighting through it every time you put a bar over your head, making that groaning noise when you sit up or get out of bed and started addressing your movement quality to keep you active for the long hall.
Our members get access to mobility work and yoga through our online membership, you can find out more here. We hope to see you on the mat soon.